Local News

Teens can text message for sex ed

Posted May 7, 2009 7:43 p.m. EDT

North Carolina teenagers can use text messaging to get information about sex with a service sponsored by the Durham-based Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina.

The group says its Birds & Bees Text Line provides anonymous, nonjudgmental, reliable information to teenagers within 24 hours after they submit their questions.

"We believe teens need and deserve good, responsible information about sex, relationships and sexually transmitted diseases," said James Martin, communication manager for APPC-NC.

Questions run the gamut from relationships to when and how to use a condom to whether oral sex can lead to pregnancy.

Martin said the group tries to answer all questions and give the best advice it can. For medical questions, it encourages teens to speak with a doctor.

Martin said he used to get 20 text messages a day. After recent stories in The New York Times and other media outlets, the group gets as many as 150.

"We don't encourage them to engage in sex," Martin said. "We encourage them to be responsible no matter what they do."

Rachel Holtzman, a junior at Jordan High School in Durham likes the idea of a text-messaging hotline.

"I think it's important to get information that (teens) know is reliable, instead of listening to information from their peers."

Mike Long, a national abstinence education leader, said teens should seek other lines of communication.

"We're encouraging them to talk with their parents about these things," he said. "And if there's a difficult family situation at home, perhaps there's a good teacher, maybe someone in the clergy."

Martin said he encourages those options too but believes they might not be realistic for all teenagers.

"This is a good option for them to be able to ask questions and not feel like they're being judged," he said.